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Which matters more in divorce -- housework or employment?

There often seems to be no shortage of opinions regarding what actually causes couples to end their marriages. However, a recent study claims to have actually pegged down at least one common contributor. Which New York couples have a higher risk of filing for divorce can supposedly be determined by looking at a single factor -- the husband's employment status.

Long gone are the days of a wife's housework contributions having a noticeable affect on divorce rates. In fact, the study compared over 6,000 couples who were married before and after 1974 and found that those who married before significantly decreased their risk of divorce by having the wife take on more of the household duties. After 1975, how much labor -- either paid or not -- performed by wives became a mostly non-relevant factor.

However, husbands did not seem to make out as well in this aspect. The long-held societal expectation that men should be breadwinners still affects divorce, and men who have full-time employment are significantly less likely to file for divorce than their counterparts who are not. That difference applies to men who are both employed part time and not all. This result apparently contradicts the commonly held belief that how much each spouse makes has a larger impact on divorce than anything else.

The researchers in charge of the study did admit that there were certain limitations involved, which makes it difficult to pinpoint whether the unemployed or part-time employed husbands were in that situation involuntarily. They also noted that there are many other factors that can influence a divorce that are unique to each individual couple. However, by better understanding which factors play the biggest roles in New York couples' decisions to divorce, preparing for the process can potentially be made significantly easier.

Source:, "Turns Out That the Husband's Job Is Probably the Best Predictor of Divorce", Drake Baer, July 28, 2016

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